Flu Death Stories Take Center Stage at Women’s Health Symposium

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Forty-two women, ranging in age from 18 to 83, gathered at the conference room of the Crowne Plaza hotel Thursday afternoon. They shared stories of being a parent during the pandemic. Their children, now grown, watched as they talked.

Jenny, 39, had two young daughters with complications from the flu, which killed their mother, whom the women remembered as “Big Jenny.” Since that time, Jenny has had only two weeks of fatherhood, each a relapse. She worries that she will not have the resources she needs to care for her daughters when she gets older. She and her husband live just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, and they are trying to decide how they can be more involved.

“I say he’s a crime scene,” she said, smiling. “I’ve got to stay present.”

Some of the women in the room were worried about what might happen to their children if they became ill, especially as there is no vaccine for the flu. “Don’t I do everything right?” said Diana Ramirez, 45, who lives in Houston. She waited until her last child was sick to get vaccinated, because she knew it was not ideal for her body to be full of stuff. Still, she thought it was important for her older children to take care of her younger children because she didn’t want them to worry about her if she were sick.

At the end of the day, the women agreed that it is important to make their voices heard. “Just calling means a lot,” said Noemi Serrano, 36, of Houston. “People don’t listen. I haven’t called in a while.”

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